Shanghai launches an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) action plan
Coordinating city for the GNLC ESD Shanghai (People’s Republic of China), Shanghai launched its Community Action Plan on ESD (2020–2021) on 20 August during an online meeting convened by the Shanghai Municipal Institute for Lifelong Education (SMILE). Participants included officials from the cities of Espoo (Finland) and Hamburg (Germany), coordinators of the ESD cluster of the Global Network of Learning Cities, as well as representatives from the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), UNESCO’s Section ‘ESD for 2030’ and more than 50 officials and experts from Shanghai.
SMILE’s Deputy Director, Mr Li Jiacheng, and Researcher, Ms Zhu Min, presented the institute’s new action plan and commended the strong leadership of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission and active involvement of local partners from different sectors, including community learning centers, volunteer groups and the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission. Covering health education, harmonious development, environmental education and vocational skills, the Community Action Plan on ESD (2020–2021) demonstrates Shanghai’s commitment to implementing ESD within the framework of the city’s learning city policy. Implementing measures include fiscal arrangements as well as capacity development for key stakeholders.
During the meeting, UIL Director David Atchoarena underlined the strategic importance of such a Plan and highlighted the importance of empowering the community through learning. By developing greater shared ownership of their future, he said, Shanghai’s citizens will be better equipped to respond to global issues such as climate change, migration and unforeseen such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Atchoarena also expressed his gratitude to Shanghai, Espoo, and Hamburg for their commitment to strengthening the network and its ESD cluster, which now comprises more than 100 cities worldwide.
Reflecting on Espoo’s experience, Mr Ville Taajamaa, ESD programme officer at the mayor’s office, stated that ESD implementation is a process of learning from one another and empowering the community. He said that the aim of Espoo’s learning city plan is to make every citizen aware of the UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs) so that they can put them into practice.
Mr Ralf Behrens, programme officer of the Environmental Department of Hamburg, Germany, reflected on the implementation of ESD in Hamburg since 2005 and shared that a new master plan of ESD has been prepared. Mr Behrens highlighted the importance of cross-sector partnerships for implementing ESD. Around 100 projects ESD projects are ongoing in Hamburg, with the support and collaboration of more than 140 partners from different sectors.
Mr Ni Minjing, Deputy Director of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, called sustainable development the guiding principle of Shanghai’s social economic and urban development. He confirmed Shanghai’s commitment to the UNESCO GNLC cluster on ESD, pledging to collaborate with the city’s educational and environmental stakeholders and with the other members of the cluster to develop a course of action for implementing ESD in cities around the world.
Three key messages emerged from the debate: i) the importance of political leadership and commitment, ii) the necessity for collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders, and iii) the benefits of networking and sharing among partners and with other cities.
To follow-up on the ideas and proposals developed during and support the formulation and implementation of ESD action plans by learning cities, UIL will launch a series of three capacity building webinars in October 2020.